SPRING-BEARING COURAGE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Verusca Costenaro (1974 – ), ‘Il coraggio che fa primavera’

It’ll be from your comicseyes

that a new courage will rise

for the autumn, it’ll tangle in the wind

and the wind will paint it snowinter

so that the sun may thaw it

fresh in spring, it’ll be

a bearing of violets and mixture of calls,

cerulean choir bearing life in the background to desire,

the sprint of wings on the field, to feed on the grass that will grow,

summervoice adorned of an evergreen yellow,

a remedy to the fears brought by good

dreams of a small evening in august.

Featured image via caffellattefirenze


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THE HARBOUR

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Anna Belozorovitch (Moscow, 1983 – ), ‘Il porto’ from Il Debito

The harbour breathes as everything changes;
it carries in its womb the still change,
the evolution to turmoil-based unexpectedness,
the summer heat. And it makes no soundContinue Reading

UNTITLED

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Nadia Campana (1954-1985), untitled from Verso la Mente

more of the living during the journey
many horizons for hours and hours
submerged in distanceContinue Reading

THE WOMEN ARE LAUGHING IN THE GYM

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Caterina Sinibaldi, after Alex Valente’s translation of Andrew McMillan’s ‘the men are weeping in the gym’, ‘le donne ridono in palestra’

the women are laughing in the gym
on smooth backs words run to the music,
thoughts and dreams on sweaty mats.
solitary machines with white towels sing the intimate exhaustion of a quietness
women.Continue Reading

NOT YET SPRING

by Alex Valente 

Original Italian by Ada Negri (1870-1945), ‘Non è ancora primavera’

Spring? It’s still early February
and there is plenty of snow to fall, still:
still plenty of cold to bite.
And yet, now that I consider it
and take a better look around,
the announcement of Spring is not just
on the mouth of the flower seller
left on the corner of the road.Continue Reading

THE SUMMER OF STARS LESS STRIKING

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Biancamaria Frabotta (1946 – ), ‘L’estate delle stelle…’

The summer of stars less striking
encouraged locals and strangers
to hope in a return of ancient climates.
On the yellow grass unstable in the sparse
humours drinks remained half-full
another fuel to have sleepless nights.Continue Reading

FRIEND SISTER COMRADE ENEMY

by Alex Valente 

Original Italian by Edith Bruck (1932-), ‘Amica sorella compagna nemica’

Friend sister comrade enemy
for one gesture of yours my pain
could still change and dissolve
at the tip of a mulberry tree
on the sleigh of two planks nailed
by the boy who behind the stable
would caress between our legs with feathers so soft.Continue Reading

LITTLE GIRLS MUST

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alessandra Carnaroli (1979-), ‘le bambine devono’. Part of Sartoria Utopia’s Calendario Utopico 2017.

little girls must be
little girls
with long hair
or short if sweaty
with rhinestones

and hairclips
and headbands

they get ready to have children
to behave
to earn less than boysContinue Reading

UNTITLED

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Annalisa Teodorani (1978-), no title. Part of Sartoria Utopia’s Calendario Utopico 2017.

I still go looking for
fires in the countrysideContinue Reading

THE SMALL THINGS


by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Azzurra D’Agostino, ‘le piccole cose’. Featured in the Calendario Utopico 2017, in May.

The small things, the ones you almost
don’t see, the secrets under your clothes, dreams
Continue Reading

FROM ‘PRAYERS OF THE PLACE OF THE WORLD’

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Francesca Genti (1975–), da ‘Preghiere del posto del mondo’, in the ‘Ma il mondo, non era di tutti?’ anthology (Marcos Y Marcos)

word, my place in the world,
word who says things,
word who says stories,
who says war and says death,Continue Reading

THE TREE CLOCK

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Vivian Lamarque (1946-), ‘l’orologio degli alberi’

You were always really
early for any appointment, made
the whole world seem,
late, the world felt bad,Continue Reading

TRAVEL WHILE DYING

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Sonia Gentili, ‘Viaggio mentre morivo’

I travel while I was dying and I was
absent or maybe only
alone: still before the last anchor
of the world as homeland of
the present
I travel where the present is consumed
in the black womb of the light, see-through
like the dark waiting for the moon
it’ll come and it doesn’t come and I
am distantContinue Reading

THE SOURCE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Evelina De Signoribus (1978 – ), ‘La fonte’

The day when you have only one thought
the sea shivers and the wheat moves the field
everything calls for the return
though the roads have never been this many
to choose but one, clearlyContinue Reading

A CHILDHOOD MEMORY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Maddalena Lotter (1990-), ‘Un ricordo d’infanzia’

We built a house on the sand
then we stamped on it.
On its ruins our supreme leader
decreed it was time to goContinue Reading

BLUE OF DELETION

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Maria Attanasio (1943-), ‘Rosso…’

Red
which now is blade and shears
flaking wall shadowContinue Reading

THAT HE WAS REAL

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Margherita Rimi (1957-), ‘Che c’era vero’

– They say nothing is real –

I make up a language
because I’m embarrassedContinue Reading

CRITERION

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Selenia Bellavia, ‘Criterio’

From the closed recesses of a star
you ask me the real portion
of the clothed hypothesis
you cannot imagine
you do not know the rustle
of the river undivided by an ethosContinue Reading

FIRST LOVE, OF COURSE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Valentina Pinza (1982-), ‘Primo amore, naturalmente’

It was love, but we didn’t notice
none of us knew
years have passed
enough
for us to forget everything, the breathing and all the rest
we’ve thrown out those t-shirts
summers and summers ago
maybe even the following year;
that night we watched the stars
who said wishes are lonely?Continue Reading

MAYBE TUESDAY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Ginevra Lilli (1972-), ‘Magari martedì’

They come, small line of dromedaries
in the desert. Thirsty words
lined up, also tied up
one to the other. One line
seemingly obedient. Consenting.Continue Reading

FROM ‘ON LIVING’

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Martina Campi (1978-), from Sull’abitare

From the following academic day Penelope
drags on her face a pale-sided sun
and, to one side, unravels, extraordinarily powerful
backwards, tightly wrapped up in
cellophane, for the nights to come, the great labourContinue Reading

BEAUTY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Rosita Copioli (1948-), ‘Beltà’

Look, everything returns, even the markings on the wall
and behind the bushes the eyes of our heavens
without a reason to be tend towards a return,
they return not to forget, how much each
and every one finds their own pleasure – adspice:Continue Reading

NOW

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Elisabetta Destasio (1968 – ), ‘Ora’

Now:
we are the word, the movement
the undertow and the tree’s crown.
Room, street corner,
the night.
Words, whispered.Continue Reading

OF THE WORLD

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Maria Luisa Vezzali (1964 – ), ‘del mondo’

you lower your head to cross the doorway and beyond the threshold the world breathes
with vision, a restless wave that carries the smell of houses, damp,
rust, ashes, petrol, ages that vortex towards duskContinue Reading

AN ORDINARY DAY

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alessandra Racca (1979-), ‘Un giorno qualunque’

In the match
between what we call good
and we despise as evil
today a bomb will make noise
smoke will assault the eyes
scattering shards on screens
and people
a woman’s tears
will stand stillContinue Reading

VENICE, AGAIN

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Verusca Costenaro (1974 – ), ‘E Ancora Venezia’

Venice, again
and the taste of your distant steps.

Water sliding over waves of words,
telling each other of dreams and struggles.Continue Reading

WHAT PEOPLE THINK

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Manuela Dago (1978-), ‘Cosa pensa la gente’

It’s a wordy problem
even not being able to say
not being able to explain
explain your words
to those listening.Continue Reading

BLACK‘N’BEAUTIFUL

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Ribka Sibhatu (1962-), ‘So bella nera’

Black market
black cats
black Friday..!
And they call me
‘of colour’.Continue Reading

A WHATEVER RAMBLING MOMENT

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Leyla Khalil (1991-), ‘Un attimo qualsiasi di sproloquio’

A whatever rambling moment

which, by the way, they decided to call free internal discourse or interior monologue or stream of consciousness.

There must be – I just wrote mustard instead of must be and noticed it right away – some sort of difference dammit, I mean I’m sure there is but the essence at the end of the day is the same: they’re all ramblings.Continue Reading

CONSTELLATIONS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Gilda Musa (1922-1999), ‘Costellazioni’

Coppering of stars, gold
illuminated designs, visible flashing
vanguards of a thousand million invisibiles,
sigils of a space that’s close and signs
of remote spacesContinue Reading

SHELTER

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Antonella Anedda (1955-), from Notti di pace Occidentale.

She was running to shelter, covering her head.
She belonged to a tired image
not dissimilar from any other woman
surprised by sudden rain.

Continue Reading

DEEP DISCOMFORT

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Valentina Diana (1968-), from Bastarde Senza Gloria

Poems are not mats
on which to lie and catch some sun
and say It makes me think, how lovely!
that it really is like this.

Continue Reading

INVECTIVE AGAINST AUTUMNAL DISPLAYS IN SUMMER

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alessandra Racca (1979-), from Bastarde Senza Gloria

Jackets in August
coloured, behind the glass
reminding me that soon
summer will be over

You’re so cute,
jackets,
so cruelContinue Reading

FACING FORWARD – COLLE DI MASSENZIO

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Silvia Bre (1952-), ‘Colle di Massenzio – Prospettiva frontale’.

The wind is always here in this place this time of year.
Maybe you depend on traditions like this one –
the points you connect collect the space
and you breathe. And you admire it,
you compare it to the sky triumphing
at the immeasurable height of its arches.Continue Reading

OF THE INFERTILE VOICE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Roberta Dapunt (1970-), from ‘Le beatitudini della malattia’.

So I want to be like the rowan among the larch and the firs
covered by infinite snow. Layered by white
embraces, irreparable sluice of cold reason.Continue Reading

SPACE SPACE I CRAVE

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alda Merini (1931-2009), from ‘Vuoto d’amore’

Space space I crave, all the space
to sweetly move, wounded;
I crave space to sing to grow
fall and leap across the ditchContinue Reading

THE SKY STILL HOLDS US

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Mariangela Gualtieri (1951-), from ‘Naturale sconosciuto’

The sky still holds us
does not expel from its rotation
this round home of ours
and we reach the final ledge
with light articulated by stars
no longer looked at if not to call
their name.Continue Reading

TRANSONNET XIV

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Loredana Magazzeni (1957-), from Transonetti ‘XIV’

I have no one but me, I am no other,
body of mine appealing to reason,
not to the plural echo of this hour,
nor to the promise of processing.

Gender queries the tongue
and level within level it translates it
follows mixed routes in performing
its transhumanation, across the borderContinue Reading

FAKE IDENTITY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Fernanda Romagnoli (1916-1986), ‘Falsa identità’.

Sooner or later someone finds out:
I am already dead
though alive. It is a stranger’s face
offered beneath the hair
suddenly pulled back,
the shadow behind the curtains
wandering at dusk,
the steps towards the door
that won’t open. Hers the song
tricking the neighbours, covering
my buried screams. Someone
sooner or later finds out. But for now…Continue Reading

GO-FUCKITIS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Anna Lamberti Bocconi (1961-), ‘L’affanculite’, which features in the collection Bastarde senza Gloria, published by Sartoria Utopia.

The go-fuck-itselfness of a life
of relais-relax, really quite quiet
when it wants to squirrel away
calmly ticking like a Rolex.
The go-fuck-itselfness of an evening
rusting wreck on the beach
crumbling like cocaine
as it bores the cartilage of hulls.Continue Reading

BITTERNESS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Amalia Guglielminetti (1881-1941), ‘Un’amarezza’.

A bitterness without word:
but absinthe and bile and venom
every bitter thing, from my bosom
gurgling to my throat stirred.Continue Reading

COUNTRY OF LOVE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Grażyna Miller (1957-2009), ‘Paese d’amore’.

And I, here to take in the old land
beauty and love call to me.
Lost souls find refuge here
– spirits parched for truth,
violated by the lies of history.

Continue Reading

SPRING

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Grazia Deledda (1871-1936), ‘La primavera’

Winter had even refreshed
the colour of rocks. Descending from mountains,
silver veins, a thousand silent rivulets,Continue Reading

THE MOUNTAINS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian ‘Le Montagne’, by Antonia Pozzi (1912-1938)

Like immense women taking over the evening:
stone hands folded on their chest
they stare at crossroads, silent
in the endless hope of returns.Continue Reading

CASUAL DECLENSION

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Eleonora Pinzuti (1973 – ), ‘declinazione casuale’

Had I read better,

between the folds of chances
the cuneiform tract of the Sybil…
But I was far-sighted,
or maybe deaf,
sorrowful Ulysseid
lacking faithful band or lovely Circe.Continue Reading

IF YOU NOW CAME TO KNOCK AT MY DOOR

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Patrizia Cavalli (1947 – ), ‘Se ora tu bussassi alla mia porta’

If you now came to knock at my door
and took off your glasses
and I took off mine which are the same
and then you entered my mouthContinue Reading

THIS POEM IS CALLED

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Francesca Genti (1975 – ), ‘Questa Poesia si Intitola’

the gutter punk blue.

it’s for you.
and it behaves badly.

it throws tantrums
causes trouble all over
asks unwanted questions.Continue Reading

WE’LL DIE APART

by Alex Valente

Original Italian ‘Moriremo lontani’, by Cristina Campo (1923-1977)

We’ll die apart. It’ll be much
if I rest my cheek in our palm
for New Year’s; if in my own
you will trace another migration

Continue Reading

COME

by Alex Valente.

Original Italian by Patrizia Valduga (1953-), ‘Vieni, entra e coglimi’

Come, come in and pluck me, pick me, try me…
squeeze me free me tease me…
stoke me code me renew me.
Increase… decrease… lose me.Continue Reading

REVOLT

by Alex Valente.

Original Italian by Alda Merini (1931-2009), from ‘La Terra Santa’.

You made me into something dull
a petrified forest
one who cannot cry
for undone motherhoods.Continue Reading

A COMET, THEY SAID

2

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Mariangela Gualtieri (1951 -), from ‘Bestia di Gioia’.

They said it was a comet
smashing into the hardness of Earth
that brought water to the rocks
of our planet.Continue Reading

WAR-BLINDED

by Alex Valente.

Original Italian by Virgilia D’Andrea (1888 – 1933).

Tall and serious, his brow stark
his face towards the wide sea…
But the eyes now dark
speak of a bitter history.Continue Reading

SISTER FRIEND WHORE

by Alex Valente.

Original Italian by Paula Schöpf/Bloom (Sinti poet, 1953 – )

As a painter hungry for beauty
I walk every street
And at sunset
I stop at the corners of the world
And paint your life
Sister
Friend
Whore
Your gaze lost in space
In your eyes both daybreak and dusk
Swaying you reveal the exhaustion in your feet
Swaying you reveal a breast curved with sadness
Affected moves of a travelled womanContinue Reading

WOMAN IN THE WORLD’S TOMORROW

by Alex Valente.

Original Italian by Sibilla Aleramo, ‘Donna nel domani del mondo’.

I am pregnant with you,
woman who’ll live in the world’s tomorrow.
In a distant year
my flesh created,
my fibres remember,
each day a darkened labour
bodily suffering tamed by will
and sweetened ineffably
by hope.Continue Reading